If the Academy Was A High-School Stereotype...
Sorry to Bother You (Boots Riley, 2018)
If you read the Film Society’s Best of 2018 article, you know that Boots Riley’s Sorry to Bother You was my favourite film of the year. The story was fresh and fun, the acting was superb, and it tackled some of the most prevalent issues of today’s society. Because of this, I was baffled when I saw that it received zero Oscar nominations. I knew the chances of it receiving a Best Picture nomination were slim, for the Academy seems to favour larger budget classical-Hollywood films, but I hoped that Riley would at least receive a nomination for his brilliantly original screenplay. Additionally, Lakeith Stanfield gave one of the best performances of the year as a man struggling to maintain his identity while trying to survive in the completive, capitalist climate, that was undoubtedly Oscar-worthy.
John David Washington
John David Washington did a tremendous job portraying the real-life Ron Stallworth in the Spike Lee directed Blackkklansman. Another one of my favourite films of 2018, Blackklansman received six Oscar nominations, including Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Achievement in Directing. You know what is missing from this list? A Best Actor nomination for Washington. I’m happy that Adam Driver was recognized for his supporting role, but Washington was truly the star of the show. His performance was funny, cool and believable. Like Fisher, Washington received a Golden Globe nomination and was wrongfully snubbed by the Academy.
Eighth-Grade (Bo Burnham, 2018)
Yet another indie-darling that was overlooked by the Academy. Never has there been a coming-of-age film that has gotten the struggles of being a pre-teen so right. Bo Burnham’s directorial debut captures the awkwardness of middle school with extreme honesty. While other films have tried to glorify this stage in life, portraying epic stories of trial and triumph, Eighth-Grade doesn’t sugar-coat it. Kayla Day is just your average girl, complete with acne and an addiction to her cell-phone, who is just trying to fit in. When watching the film, I completely forgot that I was watching a fictitious story; that’s just how good the writing, and Else Fisher’s performance, was. I was hopeful when Fisher received a Golden Globe nod for Best Actress, yet the Academy failed to follow suit.
I’m just going to go out and say it; I love Timothée Chalamet. I believe that everything he does is absolutely brilliant and I’m not just saying this because of his amazing cheek bones. Chalamet’s dedication to his roles, how he approaches each character with complete honestly, is outstanding. His follow up performance to last year’s Call Me By Your Name, for which he received a Best Actor nomination, and Lady Bird, as a young man struggling with addiction in Beautiful Boy left me in tears. The true tragedy, however, was that he didn’t receive as much screen-time as his co-star Steve Carell. In the perfect world, his and Carell’s characters would be equal, and Chalamet would receive another nomination for Best Actor. Alas… this isn’t a perfect world. Sigh.
Black Panther (Ryan Coogler, 2018)
Okay, I loved Black Panther just as much as the next person. However, unlike Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, I don’t think that it took the super-hero genre to another cinematic level. The story was predictable, the characters weren’t very interesting, and the special effects were standard. I understand that this is the first Marvel film with an all-black cast, and I commend them for this, but it wasn’t spectacular. The Best Achievement in Costume Design nomination was well deserved but, when compared to some of the other films that came out in 2018, it isn’t Best Picture worthy.
I don’t really have an issue with Sam Elliot’s nomination for Best Supporting Actor for his role in A Star is Born. He did a fine job. I just didn’t feel as if his character had a significant effect on the story. Elliot is a fantastic actor; this role just wasn’t anything special.
Bohemian Rhapsody (Bryan Singer, 2018)
Aside from Black Panther, I think that the public was mainly surprised to see the praise that this film received from the Academy. Again, like Black Panther, I thoroughly enjoyed this film. I just don’t think that it held a candle to films like Sorry to Bother You, Roma and The Favourite. Although I do not have an extensive knowledge of Queen, I have heard from my peers that Bohemian Rhapsody wasn’t that accurate, leaving out important aspects of Freddie Mercury’s life. Rami Malek’s performance as Mercury was great. The film… not so much.
Finally, a pleasant surprise! Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Academy for giving recognition where recognition is deserved. Maybe I just have little faith in them, but I thought that the Academy would ignore the amazing performances in last year’s foreign-language films. Aparicio’s performance as the stoic Cleo in Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece Roma, was outstanding.